5/27/2015 - Wlodarczyk Named NHD Teacher of Year
Memorial Middle School history teacher Karl Buckley calls Sharon Wlodarczyk the “Geno Auriemma of the Region 15 History Day Program” not only because her teams perennially win at regional and state competitions, but because of the work habits she instills in her students.
In May, Region 15 Advisor Sharon Wlodarczyk was named the 2015 Patricia Behring, Connecticut State National History Day Teacher of the Year. Two winners, one at both the junior level (grades 6-8) and senior level (grades 9-12), were selected from each NHD affiliate.
“National History Day firmly believes that quality teachers are the best educational tools that students have,” said National History Day Executive Director Cathy Gorn. “The teachers selected as Behring award recipients are a credit to their discipline and exemplify what it takes to be a quality educator.”
Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award winners are teachers who participate in National History Day and have shown outstanding creativity, commitment and inspiration in developing student interest in the field of history. Each winner is awarded $500 and becomes eligible for the National Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award.
“As an advisor to this program for Memorial, Pomperaug and Rochambeau, Sharon has been the glue that ties this highly successful program together,” said Memorial Middle School history teacher Scott Culver. “Sharon’s guidance has ensured that our region has been a dominant player at the regional and state level of competition, as well as a contender at the national level.”
Culver’s colleague at MMS, Karl Buckley, agrees that Wlodarczyk is most deserving of this honor.
“She is amazing to work with and watch. She focuses on the details and nothing is left to chance. She, and her students, do their homework and are well prepared.”
To be eligible for this recognition, the teacher must use creative teaching methods that interest students in history and help them make exciting discoveries about the past, show exemplary commitment to helping students develop their interest in history, and recognize their achievements.
During the summer of 2013, Wlodarczyk and PHS Senior Timothy C. attended the Albert H. Small Student/Teacher Institute, “Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom.” The program included meetings and events in Washington DC and Normandy, France.
“This was a transformative event for Tim, a veteran of Sharon’s National History Day program,” said PHS social studies teacher David Bass. “Sharon’s time and effort will continue to have an effect as he continues his education.”
Pomperaug High School English teacher Margaret Hartshorn attests that the skills Wlodarczyk helps the students develop stay with them at the high school level and beyond.
“This is a well deserved honor and I am not a bit surprised because year after year I have watched your students' successes from my position in the PHS English Department,” said Hartshorn. “You have the knack of bringing out that magical love of inquiry and learning that I see in my two young grandchildren and wonder where it goes when those inquiring youngsters reach high school age. But you keep it alive.”
Wlodarczyk believes that the reason National History Day is one of the most valuable programs available to our students is because it encourages individuality and develops the students throughout the school year. In addition to chaperoning the students on educational field trips to the State Historical Society and State Library, Wlodarczyk helps them navigate online databases and college and presidential library websites. She also encourages the students to do an interview with an authority on the topic.
“I have watched many students grow and change throughout a school year who were thought to be unable to complete such a complex project. I am happy to be able to make a difference in so many young lives,” she said.